• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

💯 {Staff Pick} Some Stuff about Classic Traveller

Marc17

Registered User
Validated User
I think if one pushes the idea that computer access allows trivial access to knowledge skills, then there's no reason not to push that into physical skills. I.E.: why have a pistol skill, when it's a matter of simply asking the computer in the gun to shoot at someone? Why have a Mechanical skill, when a proper Expert system can talk someone through any repair? And Pilot? We already have planes that pretty much fly themselves.
And I think this would fall pretty well into Classic Traveller as money seems to be de facto experience. The key would be making it so that such things cost an appropriate amount to money for their advantages as compared to other things you can buy. Then, in my experience, getting exceptional things are often a mini-adventure in themselves as you have to figure out a system with appropriate TL and LL to buy such. It turns out to be so many jumps away thought certain systems, trade expectations are worked out, perhaps a job picked up, etc just to get there and buy what you want.

All in all, such approaches work fairly easily into Traveller as does most of what we think of as cyberpunk and other transhumanism tropes. The real issue is that Traveller is such a high level view system that such things just work out to a few plusses and lots of fluff text which some times isn't all that exciting.
 

ffilz

Registered User
Validated User
I think the disconnect is that people looking at CT from a modern gamer's perspective are thinking about skills the same way you might think about skills in D100, Gurps, Fate or even Mongoose Traveller. That is, in those games skills are largely about what you can do and the values indicate roughly how well you should be able to do it. In Classic Traveller, by contract, I prefer to think of what that game calls skills as edges. That is, if I served as a Scout before my adventuring life then I'm skilled in all things you'd expect a scout to be able to do. I can do recon even if stealth-1 or recon-1 isn't (for whatever reason) on my character sheet. When gun-1 is on my character sheet, I expect that's because my scout is an especially good shot, and he'll have an edge even under very stressful conditions.

By the same token then, if I spent time a Scientist then I'd expect all my knowledge skills to be wrapped up in that. If it becomes important in play to know what kind of scientist its as easy as:

ME: Hey what kind of scientist were you?
Player: Hmmm...I think I was a marine biologist.
ME: Awesome! Let's say any time that's relevant you get a DM at a <terms served>/2. For all other general science-y stuff we'll go by your EDU score as a guideline.

And then as ref I'm very likely going to drop alien ruins, or an abandoned research station or something on the ocean floor of some world the pc's are likely to visit.

This to me is orders of magnitude easier than going through the random roulette tables and substituting out whatever skills are listed there with marine biology, chemistry, geology, etc. That's mostly because until I started thinking about CT differently, I tried to do just that and the experience was maddening.

All that said, I can totally understand how that might not jive with some players or some refs. I tend to think that's why we have Mongoose Traveller (or Cepheus Engine), which does present a unified skill system. In that version of the game, any time I see "Science" on the Scholar service table, you can require specification for specialty like science (marine bio)-1.
That is totally my take on things. Keeping with Book 1 skills really helps (I have added a FEW skills to support Supplement 4 careers, and even just changed Medical-1 to Religion-1 on an "other" NPC, thus adding another skill). Book 4 and later added so many specialized skills it's understandable people started looking at the skills as defining the character's expertise. Keeping the "edge" idea also helps keep folks from being all tied up in knots that their star ship captain only has Pilot-1.

The one place this breaks down a bit in Book 1 is a Doctor being defined as Medical-3 (and a Surgeon also having DEX 8+). On the other hand, the Doctor career makes it quite possible to have Medical-3 after 2 terms (which I would define as college and med school). So all it means is that among the services, actual doctors are rare. Fine, and cool. We could even pick other skills and give a title for Skill-3 and then additional things the character could do without breaking things (maybe an Engineer-3 is an actual engineer, and can design and build star ships, not just keep them running - naval architects are referenced in Book 2, but nothing informs how you become one...).

Frank
 

FoolishOwl

Registered User
Validated User
I can't blame Traveller for a problem with space opera in general: it represents advanced technology with extensive, sophisticated automation, and shows enormous numbers of people operating that equipment -- and never mind the implicit contradiction.

Of course, that's a contradiction that exists in the real world to a considerable extent.
 

CK!

Creator of Things
Validated User
That would depend on the goals of the Referee, wouldn't it?
Without doubt. In my later posts in the conversation with strangevisitor I point out I am only speaking from my point of view, and how I Referee.

Different Referees have different goals. I have my own.

Speaking of which:

The Traveller referees I played with back in the day felt it was a hostile, uncaring universe, itwas up to the players to ask the right questions. As an example:

"So FYI guys? The people of the planet your Mercenary army just raided, put a lethal virus in the atmosphere. Anyone who was on the planet without telling me they were wearing a vacuum suit, is dead."

So for example in the case of the Festival, the only question a Referee would ask himself would be "Did the players think to ask me about any interestingly lethal cultural activities? No? Well then they can find out when they recreate the starring role in The Wicker Man."

Of course then we proceed to the Argument phase of Rulings oriented gaming, at which point the Referee could shrug and say "Sure", shrug and say "So roll dice, aim high", or shrug and say "You should have asked",
What a fucking nightmare.

I played a couple of sessions with Referees like this decades ago. I never Referee this way, and I never stuck around in a game where someone Refereed this way.

By the way: this doesn't sound like playing in a "hostile, uncaring universe." It sounds like being trapped in a room with a dick.

I can create a hostile, uncaring universe (I believe my current Lamentations of the Flame Princess is an example), but I can still manage to give my Players the benefit of the doubt and tap their PCs' attributes and classes (constantly) to provide information that can both protect them from dangers but, much more importantly, allow them to engage with danger, anticipate and stress of danger, and work to circumvent danger.

After all, what does saying, "You were stupid" to the players (which is the kind of play you described) get me? By alerting the players to trouble ahead of time I get gameable material. By just spring a useless trap and saying "Gotcha!" I get nothing.
 
Last edited:

CK!

Creator of Things
Validated User
I think the disconnect is that people looking at CT from a modern gamer's perspective are thinking about skills the same way you might think about skills in D100, Gurps, Fate or even Mongoose Traveller. That is, in those games skills are largely about what you can do and the values indicate roughly how well you should be able to do it. In Classic Traveller, by contract, I prefer to think of what that game calls skills as edges. That is, if I served as a Scout before my adventuring life then I'm skilled in all things you'd expect a scout to be able to do. I can do recon even if stealth-1 or recon-1 isn't (for whatever reason) on my character sheet. When gun-1 is on my character sheet, I expect that's because my scout is an especially good shot, and he'll have an edge even under very stressful conditions.

By the same token then, if I spent time a Scientist then I'd expect all my knowledge skills to be wrapped up in that. If it becomes important in play to know what kind of scientist its as easy as:

ME: Hey what kind of scientist were you?
Player: Hmmm...I think I was a marine biologist.
ME: Awesome! Let's say any time that's relevant you get a DM at a <terms served>/2. For all other general science-y stuff we'll go by your EDU score as a guideline.

And then as ref I'm very likely going to drop alien ruins, or an abandoned research station or something on the ocean floor of some world the pc's are likely to visit.

This to me is orders of magnitude easier than going through the random roulette tables and substituting out whatever skills are listed there with marine biology, chemistry, geology, etc. That's mostly because until I started thinking about CT differently, I tried to do just that and the experience was maddening.

All that said, I can totally understand how that might not jive with some players or some refs. I tend to think that's why we have Mongoose Traveller (or Cepheus Engine), which does present a unified skill system. In that version of the game, any time I see "Science" on the Scholar service table, you can require specification for specialty like science (marine bio)-1.
I back everything in this post, though I put my own spin on it:

One distinction I make is that a Throw in original Traveller is not a "Skill Roll" as we know it today. It isn't about testing the "PC's Skill."

Instead a Throw is an impartial mechanic to determine the outcome of something happening one way or another. The odds of the roll sum up a confluence of factors of which the PC's expertise is just one influence on the outcome.

This runs counter to most game designs from 1980 onward. But it fits in perfectly with the miniature/Strategos/Free Kriegsspiel game culture that both original Dungeons & Dragons and original Traveller grew from.
 

CK!

Creator of Things
Validated User
The one place this breaks down a bit in Book 1 is a Doctor being defined as Medical-3 (and a Surgeon also having DEX 8+).
I actually don't see any bump here. The rules tie expertise to the ability to get jobs. If you have an expertise of Medic-1 or Medic-2 you can serve as a Medic on a starship. The rule about Medic-3 = Doctor clarifies that a medic on a starship is not a doctor, but more of an EMT.

Looking at the description of Medical we find:

Expertise of medical-3 or greater qualifies a character for the title doctor, and he is considered licensed for the practice of medicine. He can write prescriptions, handle most ailments, etc. A dexterity of 8+ is required for the doctor to also be a surgeon."
So the rule about "Doctor" reveals the additional breadth of knowledge and ability that a Medic-3 provides. A Pilot-1 is still a capable pilot. A Medic-1 is a capable Medic, but not a Doctor. And what a Medic can do and what a Doctor can do is different. The rules want us to know that.
 
Last edited:

ffilz

Registered User
Validated User
Without doubt. In my later posts in the conversation with strangevisitor I point out I am only speaking from my point of view, and how I Referee.

Different Referees have different goals. I have my own.

Speaking of which:



What a fucking nightmare.

I played a couple of sessions with Referees like this decades ago. I never Referee this way, and I never stuck around in a game where someone Refereed this way.

By the way: this doesn't sound like playing in a "hostile, uncaring universe." It sounds like being trapped in a room with a dick.

I can create a hostile, uncaring universe (I believe my current Lamentations of the Flame Princess is an example), but I can still manage to give my Players the benefit of the doubt and tap their PCs' attributes and classes (constantly) to provide information that can both protect them from dangers but, much more importantly, allow them to engage with danger, anticipate and stress of danger, and work to circumvent danger.

After all, what does saying, "You were stupid" to the players (which is the kind of play you described) get me? By alerting the players to trouble ahead of time I get gameable material. By just spring a useless trap and saying "Gotcha!" I get nothing.
I think some referees fall into a trap. They want their players to work problems and so they present the problem, and only after the players didn't ask the right questions or respond to the right cues does the GM scratch his head and say "what happened?" Ultimately that is part of why I left the Classic Traveller campaign I had been playing (there were other aspects of the campaign that also damaged my investment).

I know it's a trap I've fallen into. So the trick is to realize the players didn't pick up on something and ask them questions (and not just "are you sure you want to do that" or "is there anything else you want to do?".

Im my last PCs death, one of the cues we were supposed to notice was the GM moving some NPCs on the virtual table top AFTER we moved our PCs. Without having established conventions of how movement on a battle map was managed (I for example tend to move the NPCs after the PCs so they can just move their characters rather than go around the table making statements of intent and then carrying them out - I decide what the NPCs are going to do before the players move, and we also negotiate reactions to movement so if a player wanted to react to an NPC movement, we negotiate that and make it happen).

Frank
 

ffilz

Registered User
Validated User
I actually don't see any bump here. The rules tie expertise to the ability to get jobs. If you have an expertise of Medic-1 or Medic-2 you can serve as a Medic on a starship. The rule about Medic-3 = Doctor clarifies that a medic on a starship is not a doctor, but more of an EMT.

Looking at the description of Medical we find:



So the rule about "Doctor" reveals the additional breadth of knowledge and ability that a Medic-3 provides. A Pilot-1 is still a capable pilot. A Medic-1 is a capable Medic, but not a Doctor. And what a Medic can do and what a Doctor can do is different. The rules want us to know that.
Yea that makes sense. I was just observing a movement towards skills defining what the characters can do, but I think this example still works within the idea you've presented on how to look at throws. And I can see extending it a bit (like my Engineering example) without sliding down the rabbit hole and building an underground rabbit empire. The trick here is that it doesn't render Medic-1 a less interesting skill. Instead it creates a setting where most star ships DON'T have a doctor on board. They have someone who can take care of low passengers, minor injuries and medical emergencies (presumably the reason a passenger ship must have a Medic).

And I just noted some differences in the wound rules between 1977 and 1981 (section by section comparison updated). 1981 adds specification that you need a Medic-3 Doctor to recover from severe wounds. There is also helpful errata.

Frank
 

celebrityomnipath

Murmaid Murderer
Validated User
And of course thanks to Mr. Snead we have the Traveller edition of Mindjammer. Not CT, but still counts.
And thanks to Kevin Crawford for making the D&D version of Traveller, which has quite a bit of transhumanism.



The trick here is that it doesn't render Medic-1 a less interesting skill. Instead it creates a setting where most star ships DON'T have a doctor on board.
Unless he's smuggling his frozen crazy sister.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
Of course, that's a contradiction that exists in the real world to a considerable extent.
It's also subject to cultural variations. In Japan, for instance, there are doorkeepers, lift operators and traffic-directing people employed in numbers that would be unthinkable in the UK, and it's nothing to do with a difference in the relevant technologies.
 
Top Bottom